Friday, January 29, 2010

Focus On Family Anti-Abortion Ad Uses Premise With Unintended Message

From NPR:

For years, CBS and other networks banned "advocacy" commercials from airing during the Super Bowl. But CBS recently reversed its stance. A commercial that opposes abortion, featuring Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, is set to air in this year's big game. And some fans say they don't want to see these types of ads in the Super Bowl.[...]

Focus on the Family is paying for the 30-second spot. Ads during the game are selling for up to $3 million. The group's spokesman, Gary Schneeberger, says the ad is not political. "I can tell you there's nothing controversial about it, there's nothing political about it," Schneeberger says. "It is simply a very inspirational 30 seconds about celebrating life and celebrating families." [...]

CBS approved the Focus on the Family commercial before making a statement about their new policy on advocacy ads. As the controversy over the ad grew louder over the past few days, CBS issued the new policy. The broadcaster now says it will accept advocacy ads that are produced "reasonably."
The story of Timothy Tebow's birth from Wikipedia is:

While pregnant, Pam suffered a life-threatening infection with a pathogenic amoeba. Because of the drugs used to rouse her from a coma and to treat her dysentery, the fetus experienced a severe placental abruption. Doctors expected a stillbirth and recommended an abortion to protect her life.[1] She carried Timothy to term, and both survived.
The details of this story related to what the doctors said, and therefore the choices Timothy Tebow's family had to make have been called into question largely because abortion is illegal in the Phillipines (with no exceptions, not even for the mother's life) where the Tebow's lived and where Tim was born.

What isn't disputed is that this mother was ill and needed medical treatment while pregnant and they were relieved and gladdened to have a healthy baby. If there were risks to the mother's life and the baby's life, this family got lucky with the choices they made.

I'm glad for them at such a desirable outcome. Some people and some groups will deny it but other expectant mothers aren't so lucky in this situation. Some babies will be stillborn. Some expectant mothers will die or have their health permanently compromised. If those expectant mothers were given accurate information, an alternate choice and then freely declined that choice then their human rights were respected.

If this ad sets out to create the perception in Superbowl viewers that this outcome is what always happens when pregnant women make the choice to continue a pregnancy that's a deceptive and dangerous message. It's also a deceptive and dangerous message if there is any claim that this outcome was due to the family's faith. Other families have just as much faith and they get a very different outcome.

If all this ad does is celebrate families and life as is claimed then CBS and Focus on the Family should be fine with an ad which shows a series of happy, successful parents and children who overcame some difficulty which according to FOTF would not be political.

We could begin with a single mother and her decision to ignore abstinence only messages to have a child as a teenager and to ignore those who scorned her and pushed her to give up her child for adoption. She could show off her pro-football player son who created a foundation which helps single mothers and their children.

Then we could have 2 lesbian women talking about their decision to become a family complete with children, despite repeated death threats from "moral" people, which shows their children who are now all successful and helping with critical community needs.

Then we could have a young woman talking about needing and getting emergency contraception at the hospital after she was raped as a teenager by a boyfriend who told her a baby would keep her linked to him for the rest of her life. Her parents could tell how they prayed for their daughter's life and tell of the sorrow of another set of parents who witnessed their pregnant daughter shot to death by that same abuser.

Then we could have a mother who made the heartrending choice to have an abortion because not doing so would almost certainly end in her death. She could talk about choosing the welfare of her husband and the children she already gave birth to. Her family could talk about how much it means to still have this woman in their lives and how after a hysterectomy the parents adopted children from the foster care system who were considered irredeemable.

These all celebrate life and they all celebrate families, but they don't do this according to the narrow Focus on the Family narrative.

Also the celebration of life justification for this ad means that relating the stories of girls and women who were denied abortions and who died horrifically during pregnancy would not be reasonable. Since there is no life left to celebrate in these cases, they are not suitable for public broadcast. The public doesn't need to know about them when making decisions about laws related to reproduction.

A major flaw in the premise of this Tebow ad where a son's well being and accomplishments are positioned as evidence that what would have prevented that birth (in this case abortion) should be illegal is that this premise also could be used to support making abstinence until marriage programs illegal. Using this premise a single mother could relate how she was told to wait for marriage and if she had waited, look at the wonderful child who wouldn't be alive today.

The other major flaw in this premise is that taking the position of, "Look who wouldn't be alive if ..." is that it could be used to justify ignoring reproductive coercion and rape. Some people already take the position that it is God's will that some girls and women are raped and become pregnant from rape.

Sometimes so-called feel good messages contain messages which are the opposite of good and seek outcomes which are harmful to many.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:42 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Carnival Deadline Tonight

Tonight at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

For anyone unfamiliar with blog carnivals, these are collections of blog posts on a variety of topics. You can browse the list of carnivals some of which are active and others which are not.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:43 AM   0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sexual Violence Against Someone Asleep

I got an email from a reader who has opted to remain anonymous. She noted how little discussion there is about sexual assaults where the victim was asleep when assaulted.

There is quite a bit of discussion about sexual assault against those who are passed out due to alcohol or drug consumption or who fell asleep after consuming alcohol or drugs, but too much of this discussion puts the responsibility and focus onto the victim for deciding to consume. Many times if the victim claims to have been drugged that person faces additional blame for allegedly not taking responsibility for their own actions. If the victim cannot prove they were drugged many people will assume this is proof that they lied about being drugged and likely lied about being raped. The rapists in these situations are too often ignored or excused.

The reality is that most of us become vulnerable every night, but that isn't generally viewed as a risky behavior.

The most common occurrence of sexual assault against those who were sleeping as far as news coverage goes is the stranger break-in sexual assault. These assaults where the victim awakes to an in-progress assault are also quickly acknowledged by most people as clear cases of sexual assault. Sometimes these rapes are held as the standard of real rape since a sleeping person clearly hasn't consented and couldn't consent.

The attitudes about sexual assault quickly get muddier when the person who commits sexual violence against a sleeping person didn't need to get past any locks or didn't need to search for an unlocked window. Some people claim in effect that there is some sort of code where letting someone sleep in your home, or you sleeping in someone else's home, can become clear sexual consent which says, "after I fall asleep, please sneak into my bed and do whatever you want."

Those who dismiss these rapes will often talk about how girls and women want sex but don't want to be seen as easy so they go to great lengths to send coded messages of consent which look just like they haven't consented. These people will often dismiss pre-sleep conversations where lack of consent is clearly communicated and clearly acknowledged. This is just very clever coded consent.

What these people have done is make it clear that actual consent is optional and actual communicated lack of consent is meaningless. They may cite having given this type of coded message or they may tell of knowing someone who sent a coded message of consent. Their bottom line is that if anyone has ever been okay with something all those who are not okay with that action don't matter.

For these people proximity trumps lack of consent. Some people do this because they feel entitled to consent on behalf of those who didn't consent. Others do it because their image of who rapists are and how they operate is so fixed that they reject the reality of rape whenever it doesn't fit that limited image. They desperately need an alternative theory when the truth doesn't fit their expectations. Maintaining their idea of who rapists are becomes more important than protecting people from all rapists and more important than holding all rapists accountable.

Holding rapists accountable means more than criminal prosecutions. Some rapes are hard or even impossible to prosecute, but that doesn't mean those rapes should be treated like they never happened. Raping someone as they sleep is not a mistake and should never be dismissed as one. If a rapist listened to those who deny rape and uses their words as a defense that person is still responsible for committing rape.

The attitudes toward sexual assault victims get even muddier when the person who sexually assaults someone in their sleep is in a sexual relationship with the person they sexually assault. What is clear, lack of consent, can for some people become immaterial. This can be true even when conditions of consent which are always present while both people are awake are ignored such as required condom usage or limits on sexual actions. When this happens those who do the excusing are showing their disregard for the victim as a human being with full human rights.

These changes in attitude about sexual assaults are often linked to the idea that sexual consent can be like owning a car which you can drive whenever and however you want without worrying how the car feels. People who view relationships like one person is an object owned by the other are subscribing to a dangerous dehumanizing model. If you are no longer human then you no longer deserve basic human rights.

Too many people still believe that wives have absolutely no bodily autonomy from the moment they sign their marriage license. The marital rape exceptions which still exist in some places in the world made this the legal view. Making certain rapes legal didn't stop them from being real rapes, they just gave an official seal of approval to certain rapists.

Rape isn't actually illegal where there are rape exceptions, it is only regulated. The enforcement of rape laws where there is no rape exception often follows the regulation model. Juries may ignore a rapist's admission that there was no consent because of their belief in the regulation model.

What I can say about this type of sexual assault only skims at the reality of being sexually assaulted while you sleep. Here's what the survivor who emailed me wrote (quoted with permission and a request to remain anonymous):

My husband sexually assaulted me in my sleep on four occasions. I hit him and told him no on all four occasions. I dissociated the first three times. During two of these assaults, our baby (two different babies, as different years) was sleeping in the bed and nursing from me. I was pregnant at least one of the times. My husband was also sexually abusive and mildly coercive many other times. My husband is also aware that I have a history of CSA [childhood sexual abuse] and that consent is extremely important to me. I have more recently been able to sort out that he was and is emotionally abusive, mostly through passive aggressive means, but not always.

I went to a therapist about all of this about a year ago, but she told me I was overreacting, since she didn’t believe in spousal rape. I summoned the courage to go to a new, much more supportive and validating therapist a few months ago. I’m still married, but working on preparing to leave and basically living as though I’d separated in the same home as my husband. I am an at-home mom and we have children, so leaving is a process, not a quick event.

I should note that my new therapist validates and supports me, as do the many survivors at the online community I joined, and many friends. But when I told my family doctor, she couldn’t believe it and said that it was because I wasn’t forthcoming with sex (not true) and that, in her sexless former marriage, there were many times when she’d wished she could have raped her husband. Seriously.

Her experience highlights that the original harm is frequently compounded by professionals who minimize or glorify marital rape. It also highlights that relationship abuse can happen even when the abuser never strikes with a fist. Many abusers behave according to the standards set by the most common excuses.

These excuses are also why raping someone as they sleep can be a lesser crime in some jurisdictions (2nd degree vs. 1st degree) than raping someone while they are awake. We need to hold all rapists personally responsible for their actions and allow no excuses to reduce their personal responsibility.

Here are some links on this subject recommended by my reader.

Scarleteen: Can you have sex with someone while they're asleep?

Men's sexual aggression in marriage

Rape and Sexual Harassment Around the World - Marital Rape

And here are some research references (don't have links):

Raquel Kennedy Bergen and Paul Bukovec. “Men and Intimate Partner Rape: Characteristics of Men Who Sexually Abuse Their Partner” Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2006; 21; 1375

Arnold S. Kahn, Virginia Andreoli Mathie and Cyndee Torgler. “Rape Scripts and Rape Acknowledgement”. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18 (1994), 53-66


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:31 AM   12 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Research On Link Between Pregnancy Coercion And Relationship Abuse

From Science Daily:

Young women and teenage girls often face efforts by male partners to sabotage birth control or coerce pregnancy -- including damaging condoms and destroying contraceptives -- and these efforts, defined as "reproductive coercion," frequently are associated with physical or sexual violence, a study by a team of researchers led by UC Davis has found.

Published online in the January issue of the journal Contraception, the study, "Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy," also found that among women who experienced both reproductive coercion and partner violence, the risk of unintended pregnancy doubled. The study is the first quantitative examination of the relationship between intimate partner violence, reproductive coercion and unintended pregnancy, the authors say. [...]

Approximately one in five young women [age 16-29] said they experienced pregnancy coercion and 15 percent said they experienced birth control sabotage. Over half the respondents -- 53 percent -- said they had experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. More than a third of the women who reported partner violence -- 35 percent -- also reported either pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.
Beyond the linkage between abuse and birth control sabotage, the findings highlight how pervasive intimate partner violence is in the lives of girls and young women who are pregnant.

This research is important and contradicts the narrative that too many abusive men and others use which falsely claims that men are the only victims of contraceptive sabotage. Some people excuse intimate partner violence against a pregnant partner as a boy or man's frustration over the unwanted pregnancy, but this research contradicts that view of abuse.

This multi-faceted abusive behavior fits the understanding of relationship abuse being about the abuser's desire for power and control rather than abuse being an expression of a person who has no control.

Many teen pregnancy prevention efforts view girls as the problem often to the point that the source of the sperm is made invisible. People who clearly understand biology will say, "She got herself pregnant." yet this research shows why programs that boil down to, "Don't get pregnant," miss the mark at preventing pregnancy and may help abusers by ignoring all of their actions, including their violent actions.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:46 AM   4 comments links to this post

Monday, January 25, 2010

Research On Response To Sexist Jokes And Rape Proclivity

With so many people defending sexist humor as harmless to the point of urging those who oppose this type of humor "to get a sense of humor" whenever there is an uproar over the more extreme sexist humor such as pro-rape t-shirts or an online promotion from Air NZ, I was glad to see that there has been research such as Exposure to Sexist Humor and Rape Proclivity: The Moderator Effect of Aversiveness Ratings by Mónica Romero-Sánchez*, Mercedes Durán, Hugo Carretero-Dios, Jesús L. Megías, and Miguel Moya of University of Granada, Granada, Spain.

Here's the abstract:

The aim of this study is to explore the effect of exposure to sexist humor about women on men’s self-reported rape proclivity. Earlier studies have shown that exposure to this type of humor increases rape proclivity and that funniness responses to jokes are a key element to consider. However, the role of aversiveness responses has not been studied. In a between-group design, 109 male university students are randomly exposed to sexist or nonsexist jokes. Participants are asked to rate the jokes according to their degree of funniness and aversiveness. Participants’ levels of hostile and benevolent sexism were also measured. Results about the relationship between sexist attitudes and sexist humor and the relationship between sexist attitudes and rape proclivity are consistent with those of earlier studies. However, exposure to sexist humor affects rape proclivity only when aversiveness shown to this type of humor is low. The results are discussed in the light of the prejudiced norm theory.
This research supports what many of us have seen and reported emperically. What people find funny, or don't find funny, reflects on who they are beyond their sense of humor. This is important knowledge for both primary prevention and self-defense.

This research is also important in deciding the appropriate response when someone in a position of authority, such as a politician, makes a sexist joke about rape. This research shows that the problem goes deeper than the joke being offensive. These jokes raise serious issues about the joke teller's ethics. How people apologize for telling sexist jokes can be informative since many apologies only communicate regret over the response and don't communicate any understanding about why telling the sexist joke -- with or without backlash -- was a major issue.

It is good news that exposure to sexist humor doesn't seem to increase the risk of someone being willing to rape when the person exposed doesn't like this type of humor.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:10 AM   10 comments links to this post

Friday, January 22, 2010

Trauma Myth

I learned about a new book titled The Trauma Myth: The Truth About the Sexual Abuse of Children--and its Aftermath by Susan Clancy. Here's product description from

Few would argue that the experience of sexual abuse is deeply traumatic for a child. But in this explosive new book, psychologist Susan Clancy reports on years of research and contends that it is not the abuse itself that causes trauma—but rather the narrative that is later imposed on the abuse experience. Clancy demonstrates that the most common feeling victims report is not fear or panic, but confusion. Because children don’t understand sexual encounters in the same ways that adults do, they normally accommodate their perpetrators— something they feel intensely ashamed about as adults. The professional assumptions about the nature of childhood trauma can harm victims by reinforcing these feelings. Survivors are thus victimized not only by their abusers but also by the industry dedicated to helping them. Path-breaking and controversial, The Trauma Myth empowers survivors to tell their own stories, and radically reshapes our understanding of abuse and its aftermath.
The problem with this theory is that it confuses a lack of immediate response from the victim with a lack of immediate harm which is a form of trauma. When trauma is defined only as stereotypical upset that leads many people to believe there was no trauma.

This is the real trauma myth.

If a parent orders a child to mix and apply cancer-causing chemicals in violation of the warning label the impact of that immediate harm may take years to show up. Children who didn't throw a tantrum but who were confused about why a parent is making them do this task of course don't understand what the adult is doing in the way another adult would. Children are likely to be oblivious or uncertain of this trauma which has been inflicted upon them until someone learns about this and makes a stink.

Some of those who sexually abuse children may enjoy terrorizing children but others enjoy misusing the trust of a child. If complying resulted in the transformation of a parent's persistent verbal abuse into caring words the child craves, the abuser will have trained the child to have a positive association with the harm. This is additional harm, not a reduction of harm.

If the upset a child feels when an adult who is harming them is exposed is positioned as the child being victimized that can contribute to bystanders deciding not to intercede because the child doesn't seem to have stereotypical trauma and isn't obviously afraid of the abuser.

What the research Clancy examines should teach those who want to help children is that we all need to understand that responses meant to help victims and survivors of sexual abuse need to be sensitive to this contrast between harm and upset.

The way people who are trying to help directly impact a child's life can have that child preferring the harm they don't understand to a frightening unknown. A child who has been harmed by those who supposedly care the most about their well-being may have difficulty believing that others won't be as bad or worse. This does not mean that the sexual abuse they experienced was not in itself harmful.

If the immediate harm was being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, most people get that the child isn't communicating that they were fully willing and fully knowing participants if they cling to the parent who harmed them. Unfortunately, many people will assume that victims of sexual abuse were fully willing participants if they are more afraid of the unknown than they are of sexual abuse and cling to a sexual abuser.

The issues about primary and secondary trauma are important, but these issues are much broader than the industry designed to accommodate child sexual abuse survivors. Our society as a whole has serious problems in viewing any sexual abuse or rape victim who accommodates a sexual abuser as a real victim. Too many people confuse accommodation with freely given consent. Too many people have trouble viewing those who didn't accommodate sex criminals as being real victims.

A reminder of this came in a post on Gender Across Borders:

A friend of mine is serving on jury duty right now. The jury on which she sits recently heard a rape case in which an undocumented woman was raped by the wealthy man whose home she was cleaning. (Lest this sound too Hollywood, I assure you none of this is fabricated or exaggerated in the interest of proving my point.) After hearing the tearful testimony of the witness and listening to the testimony of the doctor who examined her, the jury deliberated. The first comment came from a young man who, at first glance, seemed like a normal, responsible, caring human being. “I think the sex was voluntary. She is so well endowed… it’s only natural.”
I wish this man's view were a 1 in a million fluke, but it isn't. Many times when girls too young to consent are raped and their rapists are charged with statutory rape, the defense will be that she looked sexually mature. When stories of these cases go online it is common to find comments which echo this rape denial.

This type of attitude impacts the harm done to those who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. Shaming, blaming and denying victims clearly isn't limited to the industry designed to help survivors. Those who hold toxic views about sexual abuse may be among those who decide to work in that industry, but this doesn't seem to be who Clancy is disagreeing with.

If the actual full range of trauma was primarily caused by the industry designed to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse then those survivors with otherwise matching abuse who never saw anyone in this industry about their sexual abuse would as a group have significantly less harm. Their physical and mental health would be significantly better on average. They would be less likely to self-medicate and would be less likely to get PTSD or to be suicidal. They would be at no higher risk from subsequent abusers than those who were never sexually abused.
I have seen no evidence of this difference.

Some of those who have been sexually abused but who never went to therapy may find the theories in this book attractive since it gives an explanation for why they have less trauma than other survivors who did go to therapy. But this book doesn't seem to address how the identity of the abuser(s), the circumstances of the abuse and other factors beyond stereotypical immediate trauma can contribute to additional harm.

H/T: Feministing Community


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:35 PM   12 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Disregarding Probable Cause

In the comments of my post Feminists Alleged False Accusation Against False Rape Society a man using the id slwerner wrote in part:

Now, while there is a likelihood that the man being accused did assault and rape his wife. No one associated with the FRS denies such evil and criminal men exist. Yet, just because there exists a likelihood that a crime has actually occurred, there is no way for officers arriving on the scene to be sure. There is also a possibility that the woman was making a false claim in order to get her husband into serious trouble, for instance, to gain the upper-hand in her plans to divorce him.
What slwerner disregards in this statement is probable cause.

From 'Lectric Law Library:
PROBABLE CAUSE - A reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime. The test the court of appeals employs to determine whether probable cause existed for purposes of arrest is whether facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge are sufficient to warrant a prudent person to believe a suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. [...]

When there are grounds for suspicion that a person has committed a crime or misdemeanor, and public justice and the good of the community require that the matter should be examined, there is said to be a probable cause for making a charge against the accused, however malicious the intention of the accuser may have been. And probable cause will be presumed till the contrary appears.
Slwerner's statement admits that there were grounds for suspicion that this husband committed a crime which means there was probable cause. However, this probable cause is supposed to be ignored because of generic speculation about vindictive wives plotting their divorce strategies. No evidence of this possible plot is required for slwerner to demand that it be treated as if it were actual evidence which should impact the handling of the case.

This is a demand for bigotry to prevail. But those who make this demand try to spin their bigotry into nothing more than a support of an unbiased response.

Addendum: If probable cause exists when someone is arrested the probable cause behind this arrest does not suddenly cease to exist if the prosecutors decide there isn't enough evidence to prove the suspect's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or if evidence is later found or presented which clears the suspect.

So when people try to use the outcome of a case as proof that there was no probable cause for the arrest, their alleged proof is meaningless.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 10:38 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feminists Alleged False Accusations Against False Rape Society

The following was posted on False Rape Society which I prefer not to link to but since he is making specific allegations against feminists and includes me in his allegations I will address those allegations. This is the first half:

A comment popped up on Abyss2Hope by an anonymous person who mischaracterizes what we say and believe. This comment was not written by the blogger, but by some reader. Here is the comment:

"There's a blog called the "False Rape Society" that is so upsetting, so backward, that it makes you want to pull your hair out. Every single thing you say about what the rape appologists [sic] think about rape is absolutely true. I was so tired of hearing about "real" rapes (must be violent, must be caught on tape, must have witnesses). It is distressing that people think this way. Thank you for what you do."

My, oh, my, oh, my.

Whoever said that rape must be "violent"? What feminist ass did they pull that lie from? If a woman says "no," or if a man unreasonably believes she consented, it's rape, period. Whoever said rape must be caught on tape? Or must have witnesses?
FRS says he doesn't deny rapes and that rapes don't have to be "violent" but he wrote on Jan. 12:

Time after time we read of police practices where the male is arrested and only later do police bother to fully investigate and discover the falsehood. [...]

In less than 24 hours, we have posted no fewer than three stories where this point is well illustrated.

There was the alleged "victim" (that's how the accuser is described in the police blotter) who supposedly stopped resisting her husband's demands for sex because she was fearful. She had him arrested even though he denied forcing her to have sex. "Authorities booked the suspect on suspicion of spousal battery and spousal rape. Bail was set at $100,000." In "he said/she said" disputes, she wins.
FRS clearly positions this as a wrongful arrest. So in theory rapes don't have to be violent and don't need witnesses and in theory if a woman says no, it's rape, period. But in practice the theory is nowhere to be found.

The only basis for this positioning is the arrest despite the husband's denial, but a suspect's denial is normal whether the report is true or false so the presence of a denial is meaningless. Those who commit crimes have a strong motivator to lie. By saying she wins, FRS positions the man being booked as if it were the same as a conviction and makes the provably false claim that the police will always arrest a man accused of rape or domestic abuse by a woman.

A report of a man physically assaulting and then raping his wife is not a "he said/she said" dispute as FRS calls it, those are reports of crimes. FRS says he doesn't deny these crimes but here he refuses to refer to them accurately.

People who deny committing crimes are arrested all the time. This is in no way unusual even in cases where it is the alleged victim's word against the alleged criminal's. I followed the link to the crime report FRS found so troubling and noticed another crime report.
Police arrested a 21-year-old woman suspected of mugging a woman in July and stealing her purse. The victim had been at a friend’s house in the 500 block of Bath Street when the suspect grabbed her purse, ripping her dress strap in the process.

Another suspect pushed the victim’s friend to the ground, and the two subjects fled north. When the victim’s friend attempted to pursue them, an unidentified man confronted her with a knife and told her to back off.

The victim’s friend, well versed in jiu-jitsu, didn’t flinch and yelled after one of the suspects, whom she apparently recognized. Police obtained a description of the suspect and a possible first name.

On October 19, police set up a photo lineup and the victim identified a 21-year-old known Westside gang member as the suspect who stole her purse. The victim’s friend was uncooperative with the investigation.

On January 5, officers took the suspect into custody when she appeared for a probation appointment; authorities noted she had been convicted of grand theft with a gang enhancement. The 21-year-old denied involvement in the mugging, but admitted knowing the victim’s friend from junior high school.
If this had been a sexual assault case, I'm sure it too would have been featured by FRS as a wrongful arrest. The fact that the report uses the term victim rather than alleged victim or accuser and it is stated that the suspect grabbed the victim's purse would have been highlighted as an injustice. There is no mention of finding the victim's purse in the suspect's possession so apparently all they have is the victim's testimony.

Then there was the fact that the victim's friend became uncooperative and the police continued with the investigation and made an arrest based on the victim's testimony. I can't imagine that FRS wouldn't have made accusatory speculation about this alleged victim if this had been a sexual assault case.

However, FRS lets all that slide and may not have given any of it a second thought. "No injustice here, folks. Move along."

Here's part of the original story which FRS focused on as a "he said/she said dispute." It contains important details omitted from FRS's summary.

The victim told police that her husband began arguing with her earlier that day because he wanted sex and she declined. [this would be the "no" FRS says he believes in]

The 41-year-old suspect reportedly hit the victim six times to the back of the head and pushed her onto a couch. When she continued to decline his advances, he responded, “Shut the f— up; you’re my wife, you’ll do what I say.” The victim said she became fearful for her safety and stopped resisting. Authorities issued an emergency protective order against the suspect and took him into custody. The 41-year-old admitted to arguing with his wife, but denied hitting her or forcing her to have sex.

So we have a report with lack of consent, overt repeated violence and clear communication from the husband that he knows he doesn't have consent and will take what he wants without consent, but FRS is treating this like a confirmed false allegation.

This contradicts his denial to my commenter. FRS continues.
They have transmogrified me into a rape apologist -- by making up things from whole cloth. This is what passes for enlightened feminist thought in 2010: lies and misandry. And, of course, self-righteousness. Don't forget self-righteousness. Anyone who dares to speak up for innocent persons falsely accused of a terrible crime against women must hate women. To the true believers -- the hard core rape feminists -- I know that what we do here must seem to be misogyny because it doesn't advocate castrating or killing anyone who happens to be accused of rape. But fair-minded people recognize that our goals are far more modest: we do nothing more than advocate that the presumed innocent be treated as if we really did presume their innocence.

But, hey, if they like me, then I'm not doing my job.
FRS may not view himself as a rape apologist because he doesn't excuse any rape he is willing to acknowledge happened, but his position on how the criminal justice system should work openly favors rapists and openly harms rape victims all in the name of protecting the innocent. That's why he isn't trusted by feminists not because he speaks up for innocent persons falsely accused of a terrible crime against women.

He has no credible supporting evidence in the case where he spoke up for a man he positioned as an innocent person falsely accused and no apparent concern about whether he himself has made a false accusation against an assault and rape victim.

He makes a false accusation against me and other feminists by claiming that we advocate for castrating or killing all boys and men who are accused of rape. Since most of his followers aren't going to bother checking the credibility of his accusations some of them may repeat this false accusation as if it were proven fact based on 1 man's word alone.

Then he closes with a claim which gives the false impression that he advocates for nothing more than the legal presumption of innocence. This lie is most obvious when he writes about women who have not been convicted of any crime with the presumption that they are the true criminals.

He has distorted the meaning of the legal status of innocent until proven guilty into a tenet where nobody is allowed to believe rape and domestic violence victims unless or until those who raped or abused them are convicted.

He writes about wrongful charges but I have seen no acknowledgment from him that women have been falsely accused and wrongfully charged with committing a terrible crime against men. I guess women never classify as presumed innocent in FRS's eyes.

He seems to forget that if rape and domestic violence are prevented effectively and if all reports were investigated competently and thoroughly and no true cases were dismissed based on bigotry then a false allegation would be much harder to make and get away with.

"He said/she said" excuses for allowing rapists and abusers to get away with their crimes benefit all who are guilty including actual false accusers.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:40 AM   11 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Die After Another Order For Protection Is Ignored

This last weekend a woman and her stepfather were murdered near Mankato, MN a few days after their murderer was released from jail for violating an order for protection the woman had against this man. Two children and another woman were in the house but not injured physically. I say physically because this man who committed murder and then killed himself did choose to harm them.

This was the third case where a woman was murdered in Minnesota in recent months after getting an order for protection. One of the others was in October right before the Minnesota Men's Action Network conference on engaging men in the prevention of sexual and domestic violence.

These cases highlight the absurdity of those who blame victims of domestic violence for staying rather than blaming those who choose to be violent for their actions and for their choice to stay and abuse or to hunt down victims who do leave.

I view these murders as a big deal and each one is a reminder that preventing domestic violence is an urgent need. My opinion would be the same if the murderers in those cases had been women and if all the victims had been men.

This latest crime reminded me why it is so important to call out MRA propaganda which makes excuses and baseless accusations while they seek to undermine current protections for victims of domestic violence and to block any effort which might have saved the lives of these murder victims.

In response to my post An Alienated Man the man in question, Gogonostop, responded to the official intimate partner murder statistics which show that women are murdered at a significantly higher rate than men with a comment which was a massive MRA propaganda piece complete with links and therefore rejected. In light of these recent murders it is important to highlight comments which accompanied that propaganda.

We do not know if men are more likely to be the murderer, for this reason: women are more likely to use poison or hire a contract killer, which is not registered as intimate partner homicide, but as a murder/heart attack, or a multiple offender/multiple assailant homicide. Furthermore, there are many more unsolved murders of men each year than women. Not only that, intimate partner homicide is a very rare occurrence - less than 1500 in 2005, according to BJS stats. A problem? Yes - but not epidemic.
He uses baseless conjecture to minimize the confirmed murders of more than a thousand women each year in the US while declaring that all unsolved murders of men and all deaths of men not identified as homicides must be viewed as possible intimate partner murders. This is sloppy methodology but is positioned as more credible than all the scientific research he rejects.

Notice also that in this speculation that men are by default positioned as never hiding the murders they commit and are positioned as never hiring a contract killer. Since it is very easy to find proof that men do commit murder in these ways, pretending they don't exist is either deliberate dishonesty or a sloppy disregard for the murder of women.

I don't know what the statistic is for wives and girlfriends who have disappeared with no credible indicators that they are still alive, but if every remotely possible murder is what should be measured then all those missing women must be counted.

His definition of very rare is interesting. When MRAs can find far less than these numbers for anything they view as harming men, such as false police reports claiming rape or abuse or a man exonerated for a rape or murder someone else committed, they don't call that very rare and don't say, "A problem? Yes -- but not epidemic."

In another rejected comment Gogonostop called feminism a "false accuser's lobby" in part for not requiring the dismissal of all testimony of those who report domestic abuse without corroboration. As this latest case showed, the corroboration too often comes in the form of murder.

In support of this accusation he wrote:
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution: "No state shall...deny to any person the equal protection of the laws."
The problem with this is that the corroboration requirement seeks to explicitly deny most victims of domestic and/or sexual violence equal protection under the law. If lack of corroboration violates people's constitutional rights as he alleges it does then corroboration must be required for all sworn testimony from everyone.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:29 PM   1 comments links to this post

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gender Non-specific Action vs Gender Equality

Several organizations have highlighted the unique challenges girls and women face in natural disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti. This has resulted in a backlash from Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) who declare that this neglects boys and men and they demand a gender neutral response. Girls and women shouldn't get special treatment.

Robert Franklin writes in Men's News Daily:
All that is simple enough, but it makes up little of what Clark-Flory is arguing for. From start to finish, her argument is this: women are special people and they need special help in this crisis. It's a classic case of "World Ends Tomorrow; Women Most Affected."

Therefore, according to Clark-Flory, "women in general will be in need of 'hygiene supplies..." Men and boys apparently will not need those things. And "women often require special care and resources post disaster." Men and boys don't need those things either. Is that because men and boys are supermen who don't need help? Or is it because they're less deserving of it than are women and girls?
Franklin is so caught up in his fervor that he is demanding tampons and related supplies for all boys and men and declaring that the only possible reason they aren't getting them is that some people view boys and men as less worthy.

In this case we can easily see the absurdity of this argument. It is clearly not anti-male to remember to provide feminine hygiene products to girls and women. It should be just as clear that providing for the needs of those who are pregnant isn't anti-male. Yet in MRA-think it is. Girls and women's basic and specific needs should be neglected in the name of gender neutrality. Not only should they be neglected this neglect must be called equality.

This demand for equal resources is selective. MRAs often oppose equal resources and equal responses when the current system gives more to boys and men and directly neglects or harms girls and women. Every example of MRA gender fairness that I've seen supports boys and men always getting the same or more than girls and women. The fact that this MRA "fairness" standard systematically supports unfairness for girls and women is something they don't want to be accountable for.

A term I read recently from an MRA was "gender sensitive" which positioned everything positive for girls and women which didn't have an equal or greater positive for boys and men as wrong. Being gender sensitive must be avoided at all costs.

Yet when MRAs demand a return of the corroboration requirement for rape and abuse cases they are seeking a gender sensitive change and they usually state clearly that they are advocating on behalf of innocent boys and men and usually refer to all those who file fraudulent police reports as female. "Women lie."

People of all demographics lie and people of all demographics tell the truth. Yet MRAs attempt to make true and false testimony gendered. Even wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted get gendered by overlooking the reality that girls and women have been wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted.

What was bad: "gender sensitive" is now imperative.

They will say that it is imperative because boys and men's welfare is at stake while ignoring that the corroboration requirement puts girls and women's safety in greater peril by assuming all rape victims to be guilty of committing a crime unless or until they can prove themselves innocent. If one woman lied then all women must be treated as liars who are guilty of a crime equal to rape until they prove their innocence. No due process rights are required for these alleged criminals.

MRAs scream, "injustice," if they even think someone is suggesting that the criminal actions of one man should cause all men to be treated as they are just as guilty until they prove their innocence. Yet according to many MRAs this horrible injustice must be guaranteed when the genders are reversed.

If the corroboration requirement is valid then it must be valid for all crimes since anyone can falsely claim to be a crime victim. Since MRAs are not demanding an across the board change they are seeking special treatment for boys and men accused of rape and abuse.

But since many MRAs claim special treatment is wrong when those helped are female they need a way to avoid looking like sexist hypocrites. The MRA solution is to claim the corroboration requirement isn't special treatment because the revised statutes they want wouldn't mention gender.

However, the selection of which statutes to modify with a corroboration requirement and which to leave alone does the gender specification for them. No corroboration requirement has been demanded to protect the innocent accused of filing a false police report from mistaken, incompetent or bigoted investigators and a criminal who falsely claims to be the true victim.

The marital rape exceptions which were in most criminal statutes for hundreds of years violated women's basic human right not to be raped and gave husbands the special right to legally rape their wives. According to MRA arguments used elsewhere all MRAs should have been rushing to eliminate the marriage exception. Yet they weren't and when I read MRAs discussing this topic they generally want the exception reinstated. To protect the innocent of course.

In every example I've seen MRAs demand for gender neutrality appears and disappears in a gender motivated manner. They've even gendered innocent in order to excuse actions which undeniably harm innocent girls and women and which directly help guilty boys and men.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:14 AM   6 comments links to this post

Friday, January 15, 2010

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 86

Welcome to the January 15, 2009 edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence.

Quick FYI for those unfamiliar with blog carnivals and who wonder about this terminology, the term refers to collections of related blog posts. Check out for more information.

I'm now on Twitter as Abyss2hope so if you Twitter please follow me and then let me know you arrived from this blog through the @ reply or DM.

Thank you to everyone who nominated a post or who wrote a post against sexual violence whether it was nominated/selected or not. Nominations that came in after the nomination deadline will be considered for the next edition of the carnival.

If you support the purpose of the carnival, you can help get the word out about it and all of the posts included in the carnival.

Here are the selections for this edition of the carnival against sexual violence:


In My New Job posted at Fugitivus, we get a discussion about how parental notification laws which sound reasonable when proposed do not work as promised.

In Men and women in the public sphere posted at Genius With a Parachute, we get a discussion of how explicit and implicit gender restrictions placed on girls once they reach puberty negatively impacts girls and women's physical and mental health.


In Sexual Assault Examinations Without Police Involvement: A Guide to Texas’ New Law posted at Speaking Out., we get a discussion of the practical aspects of a new law.

In Predator Pastor Admits Fathering Child Of Alleged Rape Victim posted at Lez Get Real, we get a discussion of Darrell Gilyard who wasn't charged with the alleged rape and is now in prison for molesting a 15 year-old girl in his church.

In 12yo Rape Victim Not to Be Believed, Say School Admins posted at Mother Jones, we get a discussion of disturbing statements made by school district employees after 2 boys interrupted an assault in Portola Middle School in El Cerrito, California.

In Principal accused of raping, molesting 11-year old girl posted at, we get a brief post highlighting that those who seem most trustworthy can betray that trust.

In Dubai: Female tourist reports rape to police, is arrested for extramarital sex and drinking alcohol posted at Muslims Against Sharia, we get a discussion about how the treatment of a rape victim highlights that consensual behavior by women is worse than violent, non-consensual behavior by men.

media watch

In You're just not that into him posted at Shh... Inside Voices, we get a discussion of the movie He's Just Not That Into You and how it repeats the dangerous fallacy that tormenting a girl is how boys show they like her.

In On rape and journalistic description posted at Reporting 1 Blog, we get a discussion about how descriptions can inject bias into a story which is supposed to be unbiased.

personal stories

In Focusing on the new when the past stays with you posted at abyss2hope: A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open, I discuss common themes in new years resolutions which can make impossible demands.

raising awareness

In Compassion for Southern Baptist leaders posted at Stop Baptist Predators, we get a discussion about the flaw in telling survivors of clergy abuse to show compassion when those leaders make choices which contribute to abusive clergy members continuing to have access to unsuspecting church members.

In Notes on Rape Prevention, Responsibility, and Culture posted at Gender Across Borders, we get a discussion of the contradictory messages sent to women about their need to prevent themselves from being raped.

In I do not consent: Musings on sexual terrorism posted at Race-Talk, we get a discussion about how sexual violence is linked to wider injustices.

In Good touch bad touch posted at Yes means yes, we get a discussion of various ways that children are taught to tolerate unwanted touches and how this undermines messages about bad touches.

In P.I.M.P.s, W.I.M.P.s and other men who control and occupy women for pleasure or profit posted at A Radical Profeminist, we get a discussion of sexual trafficking and the men who take profit and pleasure in promoting it.


In 1000 Grandmother Campaign - The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance posted at Anti-Violence Advocate, we get a discussion of an action oriented campaign for 2010.

In Self Care and Healing for Advocates... posted at "Time's Up!", we get a discussion about how important it is for those who advocate for others to deal with the secondary trauma they experience as they help others.

In Four-Letter Words posted at Holly Grande: Short and Sweet, we have a rape survivor sharing her experience on coping in the workplace and how friends and coworkers can help.

take action

In Help Save Rape Crisis Centres posted at Spinning Plates, we get a call to action for those in the UK.

That concludes this edition of the carnival against sexual violence. Thank you for taking the time to visit this carnival and thank you to the authors of all the posts included in this edition.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of carnival against sexual violence, use the carnival submission form. If you have any problem with the form, please let me know so your submission can be considered for the next edition.

Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the blog dedicated to this carnival,

Marcella Chester

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson's Ignorance of Earth Science

I heard about the horrific statements 700 Club host Pat Robertson made about the cause of the earthquake in Haiti which included:

"They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another," Robertson said.
These types of statements are relevant to violence prevention and response since many people who believe that natural disasters are caused by the victims' sin also believe that certain crimes are caused by the victims' sinful nature or sinful past.

Robertson's assumptions and bigoted "true story" remind me of shows on the History channel which talked about how people explained anything they couldn't understand including natural disasters like earthquakes in just this way.

But those people had an excuse since their faulty belief system predated scientists beginning to discover the basic mechanics of our planet and how construction techniques can increase or moderate the damage done during an earthquake. Scientists understand that the differences in the earth's surface at the epicenter can make 2 earthquakes which measure the same very different in the damage they do.

People like Robertson and those who excuse him have no valid excuse for their ignorance. Ignorance has become a choice.

This is an understandable choice. When you are not being cursed with any misfortune, ignorance can be a convenient means to feel smugly superior to those who are suffering and to those who have died. When it comes to sex crimes those who feel safe can use their ignorance to feel superior to those who are suffering and to those who have died at the hands of the sexually violent.

This belief that victims of sex crimes bring the crime upon themselves often shows up indirectly at the response to sex crimes where the victim did everything right and cannot be blamed in any way. There's a sense that this isn't how the world is supposed to work. This isn't who should be raped.

Along with ignorance which assumes the victim's guilt, this ignorance often erases other people's practical contribution to harm. The most obvious contribution to harm in earthquakes is building techniques. Except where builders are making deliberate choices to build unsafely the builder's spiritual life is irrelevant to the outcome. When it comes to crimes, bystander victim blaming has a practical contribution to harm. If a jury believes a rape victim deserved to be raped the rapist is less likely to be seen as criminally responsible.

One of the other things Haiti was "cursed" by were hurricanes where the harm is related to seasonal changes in the planet and ocean temperatures and even deforestation. If the rise in ocean temperatures was caused by humans and that contributed to increased severity of the hurricanes which hit Haiti in 2008 it wasn't the people in Haiti who are primarily responsible.

It would be the industrialists and those who consumed the most products per capita which contributed to the warming of the oceans and to the increased severity of related disasters. But this more accurate narrative indicts many of Pat Robertson's faithful viewers. To put it into their context, their sin of consumption contributed to the destruction of innocent lives. Consumer demand can also contribute to deforestation which can contribute to harm. This is a message his audience and those who share Robertson's simple sin solution would not tolerate.

Bystanders are innocent in Pat Robertson's sin explanation. Rather than understanding our complex relationship with our planet and treating the natural world with respect and understanding the solution is:
American Christian televangelist and host of "The 700 Club," said that Haitians need to have a "great turning to god"
This type of statement comes from a place of ignorant arrogance since it blindly assumes that the person making this statement was spared from this type of disaster and from other misfortunes because of his or her personal righteousness. In this worldview prevention of all that is bad or deadly consists of nothing more than the right kind of prayer.

We need a full understanding and then we need action based on that understanding not ignorance presented in the name of God.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:47 PM   1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Important Columbia Supreme Court Ruling

From Womens Link Worldwide:

Colombia - Supreme Court of Justice - In cases of sexual violence, previous sexual history and sexist arguments cannot be used.
The blatant level of violence shown in the case which caused this ruling highlights why this ruling is so important and why the elements which were banned were about bigotry trumping evidence.

In this case, a woman began to have a relationship with the school bus driver from when she was 14 years old. During eight years, the victim and the accused maintained sexual relations, in the course of which the accused verbally, emotionally and physically mistreated the victim.

One day, the accused attempted to run over the victim in a vehicle causing an injury, he threatened her with a firearm, and forced her to go to his apartment where he hit her and raped her. She subsequently filed criminal charges.

The judge in the first instance absolved the accused arguing that he saw in the victim the 'intention to prejudice the process, and that there had already been a sentimental relationship, even if it was tempestuous and difficult, that was consensual and stable with the passage of time, and therefore it was not possible to be sure, with a degree of certainty, that the sexual act which took place on the 8th of January 2002 took place without willingness of the woman'.
The bias here should be obvious to everyone who doesn't share this bias. The reality of the dynamics of the 8 year history in actuality supports the case in question. It reduces reasonable doubt rather than creates it.

Tempestuous and difficult is mutually exclusive with consensual and stable. What this nonsensical statement seems to mean is that abuse if repeated often enough and long enough it will be treated by the judge as if it never happened. Once the judge erases a man striking a woman with his car, erases a man threatening a woman with a gun, erases a man forcing a woman into his apartment, erases a man hitting a woman and erases everything else violent or controlling from consideration then he is left with nothing at all. And we all know you can't convict a man based on nothing at all, right?

What this sexist bias does is make a blatant and extreme attack disappear because the defendant wasn't attacking a random stranger. The first judge imposed sentimentality into a relationship he knows has been violent and uses it to nullify the evidence.

Cases like this are why it is hard to fathom that first judge and the defense attorney as anything less that pro-rape when the victim isn't a random stranger. The only way for them to not be pro-rape is if their illusions are so strong that when their illusions are contradicted by facts they find ways to assume the facts must be the elaborate falsehoods.

If the evidence against the defendant is undeniable then the alleged victim must be especially clever in the minds of those who cling to this bias. No evidence of this is required, it is simply a given in this worldview.

If they know certain girls and women can't be raped by certain boys and men then the evidence means as much to them as what they would see at a magician's show. In both scenarios there must be a trick. The only trick comes from their bias which distracts them from seeing the truth and which allows violent men to not have their violence recognized as such.

The supreme court of Columbia ruled that legal and judicial personnel must conduct themselves in ways which respect the recognized rights of women. This is a good ruling but it is also a sad one since it means that the human rights of women were being disregarded and would continue to be disregarded if this ruling hadn't been made.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:04 AM   3 comments links to this post

What are we supposed to do when the police treat you as a criminal?

To Rainrunner87 who asked this question,

I'm so sorry you were treated this way by the police. There is no valid excuse. When police preemptively treat anyone who reports a sex crime as a criminal and threaten prosecution they are in effect doing preemptive witness tampering and preemptive witness intimidation.

For too many investigators when this witness tampering works at convincing victims that the police cannot be trusted their bigotry either allows them to assume they were right to treat victims as the only criminal or witness tampering was their intent all along and they were not interested in seeing a rightful prosecution in a particular case.

Two organizations come to mind as possible resources for you if you are in the US: and The second 1 has a free hotline.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:54 AM   0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Craigslist Used Again To Setup Rape

From the LA Times:

The advertisement appeared on Craigslist in early December. "Need a real aggressive man with no concern for women," read the posting on the Internet classified advertising forum. Its purported author was a Casper, Wyo., woman, whose photo also was posted.

One week later, a man accepted the offer, forcing his way into the woman's home, tying her up and raping her at knifepoint. "I'll show you aggressive," he allegedly said, according to court testimony.

In fact, authorities say, the woman had nothing to do with the ad. Instead, they say, a former boyfriend had posted it, soliciting her assault.
Here's a clue for anyone who sees an ad like this and doesn't want to be arrested and convicted, talk to the person who allegedly has the violent fantasy face to face prior to beginning to act out the requested fantasy. Anyone who doesn't verify with the person who allegedly wants to act out a violent fantasy that they are in reality the person who created the ad should be treated as just as guilty as the person who created the ad.

Feeling like the ad was legit and having no proof that the ad was placed to facilitate a rape is not good enough and should never be an allowable defense.

If the law in any jurisdiction allows people who respond to these types of ads to not always be held legally accountable for their actions then the law needs to change immediately. If the law doesn't view placing these fraudulent ads as a felony then that too needs to change. Soliciting someone to commit murder is a crime and soliciting someone to commit rape must be a crime as well even if the person being sought may not consider what they are doing to be rape.

This isn't the first time someone set up a fake Craigslist ad in order to see someone raped. It must be the last however.

Being caught setting up this type of ad should be a felony whether or not anyone answers the ad. The information in the original ad compromised this woman's safety.

The victim in this case learned about the ad a few days after it was placed and contacted the police but the man who set up the ad wasn't arrested and while Craigslist took the ad down they should have redacted certain information and then broadcast that this ad was a hoax and that anyone who did as the ad requested would be committing a felony.

Currently, owners of websites are protected from liability for actions taken by those who use their website and while websites shouldn't be liable for the actions of others they should be liable for their own actions and for their failure to act with due diligence when they learn someone has misused their site to commit a crime or to harm someone.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 7:20 PM   3 comments links to this post

Need Nominations for Carnival Against Sexual Violence

Tonight at 11 pm is the next deadline for the Carnival Against Sexual Violence so please take a few minutes and nominate a post you've written or a post you've read.

The holidays are over but I'm still running a little low on nominations so if you've been shy about nominating what you've written on this topic, please take this opportunity to highlight what you've written.

For anyone unfamiliar with blog carnivals, these are collections of blog posts on a variety of topics. You can browse the list of carnivals some of which are active and others which are not.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 5:18 AM   0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Alienated Man

I received the following comment to my post Warnings to not alienate men from a man calling himself Gogonostop and decided to highlight it because it reveals much about the arguments made repeatedly by MRAs:

Sorry, domestic violence is not gendered. A look into daily life shows this reality - women are at least, if not more, violent toward the opposite sex. Out of me three long-term relationships I have been struck several times by two of them - never have I struck them. And they have laughed it off.

Abyss, you can engage men much more easily if you stop with the "patriarchy is the sole/primary cause of all domestic violence"'s very off-putting, and many people can see right through it. Traditional male roles are provide/protect - not "batter" - and most men are not batterers.

But if you continue with the rhetoric of "rape culture" and "violence against women culture," men will - at best - shrug it off, and at worst bristle up, take offense, and argue back - as anyone would at a misguided attempt to denigrate their entire sex.

More pragmatically - in terms of your own interests - look at it this way: by telling people that their sexuality (masculinity) is constructed around evil (which is simply not true), you basically do a good job as a recruiter for the Men's Movement.
I responded to this comment with 3 comments (combined below with hyperlinks added):

The scientific research doesn't agree with your limited example. Many women have never struck a man except in self-defense and could give examples of men's ongoing domestic violence (not just being struck several times) which are far more severe, rape for example, than your evidence of women's domestic violence.

You would not accept their more extreme experiences being harmed as proof of anything more general about men's violence yet your personal experience is supposed to be proof about women's violence as a whole and about men's lack of violence as a whole.

The intimate partner murder rates are provably gendered with men much more likely to be the murderer than the murdered yet you wipe those murders away with your flip response.

I've never said or written the quote you assign to me. I've never said that most men are batterers. I've never denigrated an entire sex. Those are your projections. This means you arrived alienated and don't let the reality of what I write interfere with what you claim I write.

As for the traditional male role being provide/protect and not batter, risk factors disagree that this is a protective factor for sexual or domestic violence.

You disprove that you fit within the provide/protect category when you let my rhetoric (much of which I've never said but hey why let a few facts interfere) prevent you from protecting women from domestic and sexual violence.

You make it clear you have no interest in my interests. That's honest, but my interests are to stop sexual and domestic violence.

I've never told anyone that their sexuality is constructed around evil. This is a falsehood you are promoting as if it were fact to recruit others to be MRAs.

Also your limited description of your relationships with women is vague enough that it doesn't prove that you've never been abusive to women. Abuse can show itself in many actions other than striking a woman.

You also don't give the context of those strikes to prove that they were not done in self-defense.

This matters because you presented your experiences as evidence of the gendered nature of abuse.

Gogonostop, I've been thinking about your accusation that I'm, "telling people that their sexuality (masculinity) is constructed around evil (which is simply not true), you basically do a good job as a recruiter for the Men's Movement."

The only way for men to interpret what I actually write on this blog in this way is if their formed sexuality incorporates a disregard for girls and women and their basic human rights so that these men's view of male sexuality embraces some level of sexual violence.

When I speak out against sexual violence which many people deny or minimize I am therefore speaking out against their formed (or deformed) definition of male sexuality.

Their mistake is in claiming that this subset of formed male sexuality comes from biology.

As an addendum to my comments it's interesting that Gogonostop cites provide/protect as a value when so many MRAs actively oppose protections for women and children from violent men.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 9:09 AM   10 comments links to this post

Friday, January 08, 2010

Violence Projecting Mindset From Victim Focused Violence Prevention

I came across a letter to the editor in the Herts Advertiser (which is in the UK) titled Rape Prevention Advice Welcomed by Sonia McDonnell which disagrees with criticism from Kim Thornton of a police superintendent who instructed women on how to avoid being a victim of rape.

McDonnell writes, "many rape cases are not always as cut and dried as Miss Thornton would lead us to believe." McDonnell then goes on to talk about how alcohol can interfere with the victim providing a coherent account.

The problem with this is that these issues exist when men who are not sober become crime victims. They might have difficulty answering questions like: After you staggered from the pub did you walk left or right down the sidewalk? Getting left and right mixed up shouldn't imperil the criminal case against the man who subsequently pointed a gun at him and demanded his wallet. The victim doesn't need to be fully coherent for the public or a jury to understand that he didn't spontaneously offer that man his wallet.

There certainly isn't equal prevention messages telling men to not drink to avoid becoming crime victims and this lack of parity has a real impact. Victim coherency is also a problem when someone is assaulted as they sleep or if they are assaulted in the hospital. I doubt that McDonnell would accept the same attitudes toward these victims as she tolerates toward rape victims who aren't sober.

The default assumption that rape cases where the victim is not sober aren't cut and dry incorrectly prejudices assessment of the evidence. What was obviously meaningless for the defense in other types of cases can be seen as exonerating evidence or reasonable doubt when the charge is rape. "She's getting left and right mixed up, she can't keep her fabricated story straight."

The mindset which so many people express is contained in McDonnell's report of driving by a drunk young lady. Her mind immediately jumped to how easy it would be to rape that young lady if she had been a rapist. This woman who is not a rapist looked at a drunk young woman and she easily projected herself as that woman's rapist. This is not an automatic response, it is a learned response which comes directly from repeated victim-centered safety messages.

If those rape prevention messages had a non-rapist woman thinking about how easy rape would be in that moment imagine what those messages do to a man who has disdain for young women who go out drinking. He might use those rape prevention messages to decide that overpowering that young woman will teach her to not turn her nose up at prevention advice.

He's not a rapist. He's a hands-on rape prevention reminder.

With the absence of primary rape prevention messages there is no message to counter the victim-blaming prevention messages so when people like McDonnell say, "These young ladies do have a responsibility for their own personal safety," they are actively removing the potential rapist's responsibility. They are communicating that he's not responsible for the rapes he commits.

This will be denied by many of these people when stated this clearly, but this is often proven to by these people's beliefs about the prosecution of rape cases. We see this when people say things like, "rape cases involving alcohol are not cut and dried."

This takes us back to the beginning of McDonnell's letter. Basic assumptions about rape cases are informed by the responsibilities many people place on certain crime victims that they would never place on other crime victims.

These assumptions help rapists so rather than the victim-focused prevention messages reducing danger they increase the danger that someone can rationalize raping someone who is intoxicated and increases the likelihood that someone who is rightfully accused will be able to avoid legal responsibility.

If those who are presenting these messages are committed to reducing sexual violence then they will be committed to learning the complex impact of what they say and what they fail to say. Commitment means being willing to learn and change when a well-meaning idea is a failure.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:09 AM   1 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stranger Rapist Returns After 4 Years

From KPHO:

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- A scar-faced man raped a woman for the second time in about four years, Chandler police said. Chandler police are looking for a scar-faced rapist who appears to have stalked his victim for years. The victim was raped for the second time at her home near Pecos Road and Hamilton Street in Chandler Jan 4.

Chandler Police Detective David Ramer said the rapist also attacked the woman, who is a Sunday school teacher in her early 20s , at her Gilbert apartment in 2005.
Ramer said police and the victim believe it is the same rapist because he has a 3-inch scar on his right cheek and because of statement he made during the attack. [...]

Ramer said the victim is holding up well, in spite of her experience.

"By all accounts, she's clean living. She's very involved in her church, very reliable family she's raised up in," Ramer said. "It's a tragedy that she has to go through something like this."
The comments about this case were great until this detective's reference to this woman's clean living. That reference unfortunately supports the idea that rape is generally caused by the victim rather than being caused by the perpetrator and that this woman is a rare exception who did nothing to cause herself to be raped.

It is a tragedy that anyone has to go through being raped. It is no less of a tragedy if the victim is a hard drinker who never goes to church and who was raised in an unreliable family.

These types of statements always leave me with a sick feeling in my gut. Rather than highlighting support for rape victims I'm left with the feeling that most rape victims don't measure up and are not looked at as innocent victims when they must be seen as such if the crime of rape is consistently taken very seriously.

The victim's advocate interviewed for the story believes this man has raped other women and I agree with that belief.

This type of crime comes from who the rapist is as a person. I also believe that expressed attitudes which divide rape victims into different classifications may have discouraged other victims of this rapist from reporting him or a report against him might not have been fully investigated because the victim knew her attacker's identity and those are often considered to not be clear cut rape cases and a waste of limited resources.

The same people who will rape those who are perceived as putting themselves in danger of being raped can also choose to rape those who are perceived as doing everything right. The protection from rape that comes from clean living is not a real protection at all. Instead it is a social contract that some rapists ignore.

The only true protection from rape comes from addressing the willingness some people (mostly boys and men) have to commit rape. This must include addressing the rapes of those who would never be described as being clean living with the same attitude as the rape of those who are the perfect example of clean living.


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:57 AM   2 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Perpetrator Friendly Sexual Violence Prevention: Part 2

This is a continuation from part 1 where Harriet at fugitivus sent me an email heads up about an article from June 2009 titled Phoenix Man Streamed Alleged Rape Video Online, Police Say. Her email continues.
The second commentary is from the executive director of, a website that gives online safety tips. He states that it's the first case of an "actual forced rape" being uploaded to the internet that he's aware of, but then goes on to mention he's seen videos of "coerced sex." He doesn't clarify what the difference there is, but makes it clear enough that he believes there is a difference; I've been trying to be fair to him, and imagine ways in which his quote could have been taken out of context, but I can't think of a way to put "actual forced rape" in the same sentence as "coerced sex" without implying there is some kind of difference between the two.
I agree and see this as another example of perpetrator-friendly rape prevention which helps large groups of sex criminals rationalize or at least minimize their crimes.

It doesn't matter if the person doing this is not attempting to be perpetrator-friendly. Many of the ideas which are perpetrator-friendly have been circulated as common-sense ideas longer than any person living today has been alive. This, however, doesn't mean they have been around forever and it doesn't mean they will persist forever.

In this usage coercion gets positioned as something better than actual force when they are tightly linked in not only sex crimes but in many crimes where coerced actions from victims is not minimized or made the victim's responsibility. In those other crimes the word coercion may not be mentioned because we understand that the victim's actions or lack of resistance are due to coercion.

I grew up with the belief that rapists were all strangers and all references to non-stranger rapists were obscured to the point that rape was no longer called rape. The idea that those we all agree are rapists can only sexually attack strangers and only do so with the most obvious methodology (visible, provable force) is as ridiculous as the assumption that burglars can only steal from strangers and only get into houses by kicking doors in -- forcible entry.

With all rapists positioned as strangers who use stereotypical force by those willing to talk about rape, rape committed by non-strangers was just boys and men naturally trying to push their way beyond girls and women's boundaries because that's what guys do when they are turned on by a girl or woman. All strategies of rape except stereotypical force and overt threats ("comply or die") were positioned as acceptable. If these acceptable methodologies worked then legal consent would be assumed and any rape victim who said differently was delusional or a liar.

This worldview is the only possible way for anyone to declare every rape which could be described by anyone as date rape as being something less than real rape. The judgment of the crime has stopped being about the crime itself and becomes instead about victim choice.

I understand now that this was not a unified worldview since the majority of people around me before I was raped didn't say anything about sexual interactions beyond "Don't." Those who rejected this worldview may have been tongue-tied about all things sexual or they may have believed it wasn't safe for them to communicate their thoughts in front of me.

The flaws in this worldview are easy to spot once this worldview isn't blindly accepted as the way the world works. Let's apply the principles of this worldview to burglary.

Imagine if one boy learned that his neighbors let their dog into the backyard first thing in the morning and left the door open until the dog ran back inside. With perpetrator-friendly prevention messages he could tell himself that their door was open and as everyone knows an open door is an invitation. While the dog romped any boy who wanted to could enter and hide until the family left for the day before helping himself to anything he wanted from their house. As he was committing burglary he could favorably compare himself to real burglars and tell himself he's nothing like those real criminals who break into houses.

Hopefully, we get that homeowners being vulnerable in this way cannot be treated legally as an invitation. Now imagine this one step closer to what many people defend in non-stranger sex crimes. The boy (17 and muscled) enters and comes up behind the homeowner, dominates that person physically and "asks" for cash. Does anyone really imagine that if the homeowner complies that this wasn't still a crime?

The threat doesn't have to be spoken to be real and serious. We get this truth when someone enters another person's house yet many people seem incapable of understanding this truth when what someone "asks" for is sexual.

We wouldn't imagine that the sole means of preventing this type of crime would be to alter only the behavior of people who don't want to be robbed. Leaving your back door open for a few minutes while your dog pees is clearly not an invitation. Anyone who rants about it being a legal invitation and a consensual transaction because the homeowner didn't scream at any point would be laughed at.

This worldview has not faded enough in the last decades as I realized last year when Oprah had a show about teens and sex. A boy commented that the boys in his school all know which girls won't say no. This boy proclaimed this knowledge with no awareness that it is based on a predatory fallacy.

This rumored future consent is no such thing and may help many boys who otherwise wouldn't commit rape to do so because they put the "knowledge" from other boys above all else.

Whenever someone who talks about rape uses phrases similar to "actual forced rapes," that's a danger signal to me. If you are quantifying one subset of rapes as actual rapes then you are semantically disqualifying all other rapes.

To go back to my bank robbery analogy from part 1 we don't talk about forcible bank robberies and coercive bank robberies even though bank robbers can do either of these. We talk about bank robbers.

From my experience those who use this type of dividing line see rapists differently based on how they attempted or succeeded at raping someone. This is dangerous because it judges sex criminals based on the how and who of their crimes rather than on the crime itself.

This dividing line gives us plenty of rapists who are 100% against forcing themselves on anybody. To them the how excuses the what of sex crimes. Since they would never abduct anybody off the street then they should be given the "he's just a jerk" pass for the sex crimes they commit.

If someone is out to rape you that is the central detail. Yes some rapists, like some burglars, bank robbers, muggers, etc. are especially brutal, but we don't use language for the less brutal non-sexual criminals which minimizes the crime they committed the way people do too often when they talk or write about rape.
So you've got quotes from two men on supposedly opposite sides of a debate. One man is defending his right to provide structural support for and disseminate the video of a rape, for his own financial gain, and I think it's telling that he feels safe and comfortable using socially acceptable "rape prevention" dialogue to soften the socially unacceptable fact that he is exploiting a rape for personal gain and doesn't feel he should have to face criticism for that fact. I think it's telling because it goes to show, yet again, how victim-based "rape prevention" allows convenient escape hatches for rape-supporters who wish to appear moral. The other man runs a website dedicated to keeping the vulnerable safe online. And yet, both manage to justify rape in different contexts. I think it's a pretty keen example of rape culture, when you have two diametrically and morally opposed individuals with completely opposite career missions, but both are able to agree that rape is appropriate sometimes, in some ways, in some places, with some women.
This connection is one that all those who are trying to prevent sexual violence need to understand. Those who want to exploit others are listening and those who don't yet understand exploitation are listening too.

Parry Aftab may assume that mentioning having seen coerced sex online is just stating a fact, but what he called "coerced sex" is rape and coercion is a type of force. Semantics matter because they can reinforce the beliefs behind behavior people oppose. If someone wants to highlight increasing levels of overt violence online then the more effective terminology would have been rape by coercion where this case was rape by intoxication.

We talk about rape culture only as a negative thing that is out there, but because culture is about our norms we have the power to change what may at first seem unchanging. Each person can pull their support for the idea that it is the sex crime victims who must be deflected to prevent rape and replace it with the truth that it is the perpetrator who must be deflected from a dangerous path and who will lose all support for behavior if there is evidence that the behavior is predatory.

Much of the victim-centric rape prevention messages contain messages which help people blame victims and excuse perpetrators. The fact that these messages are familiar should not be the reason they keep getting regenerated.

We should do better and we can do better.

One of the ways we can do better is to teach people to understand both risk and protective factors related to sexual violence perpetration and to understand that true primary prevention deals with the factors which can lead to sexual violence perpetration.

Self-defense is important but it is not prevention. If the level of violence around a particular person is endemic it will fail far too often through no fault of the person who is practicing self-defense. If 1 particular individual who practices strong self-defense manages to dodge danger because others are more vulnerable and are seen as easier targets no violence has actually been prevented.

If we want true prevention then we most keep the primary focus on the the perpetrators and what allows them to harm others sexually whether we are talking primary prevention or avoidance strategies.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:06 PM   18 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Perpetrator Friendly Sexual Violence Prevention: Part 1

Harriet at fugitivus sent me an email heads up about an article from June 2009 titled Phoenix Man Streamed Alleged Rape Video Online, Police Say.
A Phoenix man was arrested Monday after allegedly using a webcam to live-stream a video of himself raping his girlfriend of two weeks while she lay unconscious in her bed.

Johnathan Hock, 20, of Surprise, Ariz., faces charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and taking a surreptitious photo after the woman he is accused of raping reported the incident to authorities, according to a probable-cause statement filed Monday in Arizona's Maricopa County Superior Court and obtained by
Here's how Harriet opened her email (posted with permission):
It's about a man in Phoenix who live video-streamed the rape of his passed out girlfriend. She found out a few days later, when friends told her where to view the video online. Obviously the whole thing is disturbing, but there are two commentaries that I found especially interesting. The owner of the website where the video appeared defends his rationale in 1) not having taken the video down when it was uploaded initially, 2) leaving still images of the video up now that it's been verified as a rape, and 3) considering putting the full-length video back up, as many "fans" are requesting this. His rationale is fairly wishy-washy, mostly because I don't think he really has one beyond "I'll leave it up if I want to," but he does finally appropriate "rape-prevention" language to justify the ethics-shaped hole in his life, stating that it's a good deterrent to girls who might get too drunk or meet men from the internet. I guess drinking and MySpace were the problem here, not the rapist, and not the online community that supported (and apparently still supports) him and his actions, or at least considers them reasonable entertainment.
The reason given for a man to profit from a sex crime is unfortunately not surprising. The owner of Chris Stone ignores his role in encouraging people like Hock to commit illegal behavior for the camera and he ignores his role in encouraging people to be fans of sex crimes by lumping rape in with "controversial things."

Stone admits to having posted many videos featuring Hock, as well as still images from the alleged rape that is now being investigated.

Stone said he had no objections to reposting such images. "I follow the letter of the law and I think it's a good thing over time for teenagers, in particular, to see what's happening and what the consequences are of meeting people and getting drunk with them off the Internet," Stone said.

This motive is not credible but it's a convenient one since it allows Stone to position himself as siding with those who are not sexually violent when he and his website are directly benefiting from the commission of a serious sex crime. If Stone is serious about showing people the consequences then he would not allow pictures of confirmed or suspected sex crimes to be used for anything but evidence in criminal and civil cases.

If the law allows someone to continue broadcasting an alleged sex crime even where the suspect has been charged then the law must change so that that there are criminal and civil sanctions for those who have any credible reason to suspect that what they are broadcasting might be a crime. A statement from 1 of the participants that there was no consent for the act and/or the recording of that act must be enough to make future broadcasts in violation of the law.

The implicit and explicit message would be that sex crimes are not welcome. Instead we get:
Stone said he is still deciding whether to post the full-length video on, adding that many of his users have been asking him to do so.

If your users are asking to see video of a rape and you are considering giving them what they want then you are definitely teaching people lessons, but those lessons are perpetrator-friendly. Some people enjoy rape and apparently they are among Stone's core audience who he seeks to please.

But Stone's idea that rebroadcasting rape is a genuine form of prevention goes back to many official messages and statements tagged as prevention when they are instead conflating shaming girls and women for sex crimes committed against them with actual prevention.

We don't prevent bank robberies by shaming bank employees. In many bank robberies there is a possibility that the attempt could be foiled, but we acknowledge that there are risks whenever money is being handled.

This shaming approach is nonsensical when we view the crime we are trying to prevent as being a serious crime. The biological component of sex crimes as nullification of perpetrator responsibility is just as nonsensical since some people who rob banks do so because they are hungry and need money to get food and shelter. Our societal message is that we don't care why you are considering robbing a bank.

The same must be true in sex crimes. "We don't care what you need. Sex crimes are wrong and won't be tolerated for any reason."

Instead when it comes to sex crimes committed by someone the victim knows or agreed to meet the person who must be deterred according to too many people is the victim. We must call out all who get sex crime deterrence backwards. Norms are more than what the majority of people believe, they are the dominant expressions.

There was more from the article and from Harriet's email but this post is long enough so I will continue this in part 2.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 11:58 AM   4 comments links to this post